As the holiday season approaches, many people feel a strong inclination to pitch in and express their generosity towards their community. One great way to get involved is to volunteer time distributing food with a local food bank.
The pandemic has brought widespread financial hardship and food insecurity has grown to previously-unseen levels across the Monterey Bay Area. The number of people relying on food banks has skyrocketed, and the need for generosity and volunteerism, has never been greater.
Unfortunately, the number of volunteers available to staff food banks has dropped as many of those aged 65 and older, the traditional backbone of our community’s volunteer force, have heeded official recommendations to take extra precautions to keep themselves safe from the pandemic. This means a gap has developed between the needs of the community and the community’s capacity to satisfy those needs.
Over the past eight months, many have contributed to help close this gap: countless volunteers, non-profit and governmental workers, and others have stepped up, putting in extra hours to help assure that the COVID-19 pandemic doesn’t spiral into an epidemic of hunger. At the government’s behest, the National Guard has been present at food distributions all over the state, sweating hard through the summer to help fill people’s cars with food and provisions.
Even with such Herculean contributions from ordinary people throughout the community, more help is still needed. As the holiday season approaches, bringing with it an expected increase in COVID-19 cases, colder weather, as well as the scheduled deactivation of the National Guard at the end of 2020, the Volunteer Center is encouraging people who want to express the spirit of generosity and gratitude to commit a few hours of their time to volunteer with a food distribution.
A hard winter is on the horizon, but with a widespread, sustained effort throughout November and December, and continuing into 2021, there is good reason to hope that we can get through this together after all.
FOOD DISTRIBUTION INFORMATION:
FRIDAY DRIVE THRU- On Fridays, 8:00AM-1:00PM, the Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Cruz County needs volunteers for a mass, drive-through food distribution. This distribution moves weekly between two locations, the Beach Boardwalk in Santa Cruz and the County Fairgrounds in Watsonville.
HOLIDAY DISTRIBUTION- There is an acute need for volunteers to help with the food distributions on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving (the 25th), as well as the Wednesday before Christmas (the 23rd). Both will be at the County Fairgrounds. These are good opportunities for families with older children, as Second Harvest invites volunteers as young as thirteen (with parental accompaniment).
Also on Fridays, the Food Bank For Monterey County needs volunteers for a food distribution at Our Lady of the Assumption Church in Pajaro, 8:30AM-11:30AM. Learn More and Register to Volunteer.
Finally, we have a host of additional ways you can help address food insecurity in Santa Cruz County if these opportunities don’t fit with your schedule. Check out our list of other options. Volunteer to Address Food Insecurity
As always we are here to help you get connected to an opportunity that works for you. Check out our Ways to Volunteer page and connect with us for additional support as needed.
Blog Post written by AmeriCorps VISTA Member Brandon Dellis. Brandon is working closely with the Volunteer Center and the California Governor’s Office of Volunteers to get people involved with the effort to address food insecurity in Santa Cruz County, and is proud to be working in solidarity with all those struggling through the COVID-19 crisis.